An intriguing thread and a tough crowd.
I will jump into the fray with my version
of << Jing Ye Si >>.
* * *
<< Reverie in the Night >>
Bedside bathed in moonlight gleaming.
--Is there frost yet upon the ground?
Head raised, I gaze at bright moon beaming.
Head bowed, I long for my hometown.
* * *
I wanted to make a translation that accomplished
1) Use simple, direct language.
2) Use contemporary vernacular.
3) Keep an immediacy to the words.
4) Employ rhythm common to english poetry.
5) Form natural, rhyming couplets if possible.
One point of departure that I have taken is in the
interpretation of Li Bai's thoughts. I took the
position that he awoke in the night and, seeing a
pool of light upon the floor, he was *reminded*
of frost rather than *mistaking* the light for frost.
I felt that he may well have started thinking of
home at that point and, wondering if there might yet
be frost on the ground in his village that night, he
raised his eyes to the moon, lost in memories, after
which he hung his head in longing for his old home.
Note on rhythm:
The poem is designed to have 8 beats per line.
"bathed", "raised", and "bowed" would be recited
with one beat each, ie. "rais'd", etc.
Notes on choice of wording:
Bed [side] : "qian" can mean before, front, etc.
I imagined that, if the bed were against a wall
(lengthwise) then the area before the bed *is*
also beside the bed.
Bathed : an alliteraive liberty that reinforces
the feeling of glowing moonlight.
Gleaming : "guang" --I always think of glowing,
radiance, brilliance, etc. In american english usage
we have so many common references using the word
gleaming. "...a gleam in her eye...", "...by the
twilight's last gleaming...", "...a gleam of hope...",
etc. It still has the power to evoke a wistfulness
and a sense of light.
The doubt, "Yi", is implicit in the construction
of the second sentence as a question.
Beaming : Although this is an addition, the word
beam is so naturally connected with the word moon
in American culture. Using the verb rather than
the noun keeps both the rhyme and the immediacy.
Home[town] : "gu xiang" is rendered as hometown
in dictionaries but the word town is also a very
evocative word in Americana. The play "Our Town"
is a middle school staple. Singers from Sinatra to
Morrisey sing about their towns. Using it here stays
true to both contemporary culture and preserves a
simple down-to-earth feeling. It is also a sufficiently
good rhyme with "ground" in common speech where
the "d" in ground is often omitted.
Thank You for reading!
--With respect to my fellow forum members,